On Tyler Trent’s high school graduation cap, he wrote, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
Those were the words of late basketball coach and announcer Jimmy Valvano who was battling cancer during his ESPYS speech in 1993.
Trent never made it to ESPYS, dying Jan. 1 at age 20 after a courageous battle with the rare bone cancer osteosarcoma. The Carmel resident became known as a super fan of Purdue football.
His family made the trip to the ESPYS for him July 10. The previous night Trent posthumously received the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award at the Sports Humanitarian Awards, presented by ESPN, in Los Angeles. Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm presented the award to the family.
Scott, an ESPN anchor, died of cancer in 2015. Prior to that he gave a memorable ESPYS speech after receiving the Jimmy V Award.
“It was really my son’s dream to be in the same company of Stuart Scott and Jimmy V,” Tony Trent said. “Tyler would watch their speeches in the hospital at night when he was getting chemotherapy. To be thought of almost in the same company, it would bring him to tears.”
Tony described the experience of accepting the award as incredible.
“It was emotional, it was incredible,” Tony said. “We got to meet the Scott family, his wife and their two daughters. It was an incredible blessing. Tyler would have so appreciated to be here.”
Trent drew national attention when he predicted Purdue’s upset of No. 2 Ohio State Oct. 20, 2018, and a game he attended in a wheelchair. Trent had been forced to drop out of school a month before as his condition worsened. He was later named an honorary co-captain of Purdue football team for the bowl game.
Trent used the attention to encourage donations to cancer research. He co-write a book called “The Upset: Life (Sports), Death…and the Legacy We Leave in Middle — The Tyler Trent Story” with John Driver. The book was released a few days before he died. Trent’s goal was to raise a $1 million for cancer research.
Along with the award, the Trents directed a $100,000 grant from ESPN to three charities, donating $50,000 to Riley Hospital for Children and $25,000 each to Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research and the Jimmy V Foundation.
ESPN bought 150 copies of Trent’s book and put them in a swag bag for a V Foundation golf outing July 9.
Highlights of the Sports Humanitarian Awards will be televised at 7 p.m. July 18 on ESPN.